Unpacking the legal jargon: Wills and Estates.
When someone dies, an executor is appointed in the will to ensure that all of the deceased person’s debts are paid and that their assets go where they were intended to go.
If you find yourself appointed the executor of a will, it is a good idea to get advice from a solicitor as administering an estate is not always straight forward and it’s important to get it right! You can be held liable if you get it wrong.
Does an executor get paid? The simple answer is no. If the will stipulates you will be paid for your time, you will. If the will doesn’t say that you will be paid, you can apply to the Supreme Court for costs, however, costs are not usually approved if you are also beneficiary under the will.
What if you don’t want to be the executor? Seek advice from your solicitor before you complete any of the executor’s duties. You can apply to the Supreme Court of NSW to renounce your position as executor, however, this may not be granted if you have completed any of the executor’s duties.
In summary, once you have accepted the role of executor you will need to:
Make an inventory of property.
Apply for a grant of probate (this is a court order which confirms the will is valid and that you and any other executors appointed can act).
Once probate is obtained, the deceased’s assets may be sold and the funds distributed as per the will. Before this is done however all expenses and debts need to be paid from the deceased’s estate which involves you setting up a bank account in the deceased’s name or using your solicitor’s trust fund account to hold the funds until distribution.
Prepare a distribution statement after all the deceased’s assets have been sold. The statement must be given to each of the beneficiaries.
Distribute the assets- this is the final step and may be done only when 6 months have passed since the deceased’s death.
For more detailed advice on what it means to be the executor of the will, please call our office and our experienced Wills and Estates team will deconstruct the process for you!